In 1524, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama — who had discovered a sea route around Africa to India — died in Cochin, India.
In 1809, legendary American frontiersman Christopher “Kit” Carson was born in Madison County, Kentucky.
In 1814, the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812 following ratification by both the British Parliament and the U.S. Senate.
In 1851, fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroying about 35,000 volumes.
In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, that was the original version of the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1906, Canadian physicist Reginald A. Fessenden became the first person to transmit the human voice (his own) as well as music over radio, from Brant Rock, Massachusetts.
In 1913, 73 people, most of them children, died in a crush of panic after a false cry of “Fire!” during a Christmas party for striking miners and their families at the Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan.
In 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast.
In 1980, Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds — one second for each day of captivity.
In 1992, President Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five others in the Iran-Contra scandal.
In 1993, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, who blended Christian and psychiatric principles into a message of “positive thinking,” died in Pawling, New York, at age 95.
In 2013, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II granted a posthumous pardon to code-breaker Alan Turing, who was convicted of homosexual behavior in the 1950s.
Ten years ago: In a setback, Republican presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry failed to qualify for Virginia’s Super Tuesday primary ballot by falling short of the 10,000 signatures required. Troops commanded by relatives of Yemen’s outgoing president, Ali Abdullah Saleh (AH’-lee ahb-DUH’-luh sah-LEH’), attacked a crowd of more than 100,000 peaceful protesters, killing at least nine and driving Saleh to promise to leave the country.
Five years ago: President-elect Donald Trump said he would dissolve his charitable foundation before taking office to avoid conflicts of interest; the Democratic Party said that wasn’t enough and called for the businessman to put his assets in a blind trust. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused President Barack Obama of a “shameful ambush” at the United Nations and said he was looking forward to working with his “friend” Donald Trump; Netanyahu’s comments came a day after the U.S. broke with past practice and allowed the Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
One year ago: California became the first state to record 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases. Bethlehem ushered in Christmas Eve with a stream of joyous marching bands and the triumphant arrival of the top Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land, but few people were there to greet them as the pandemic and a strict lockdown dampened celebrations. Just a week before the deadline, Britain and the European Union struck a free-trade deal that would avert economic chaos on New Year’s and bring a measure of certainty for businesses after years of Brexit turmoil. President Donald Trump completed a round of pardons for more than two dozen people, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law, in the latest wave of clemency to benefit longtime associates and supporters.
Today’s Birthdays: Dr. Anthony Fauci is 81. Recording company executive Mike Curb is 77. Actor Sharon Farrell is 75. Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is 75. Actor Grand L. Bush is 66. Actor Clarence Gilyard is 66. Actor Stephanie Hodge is 65. The former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (HAH’-mihd KAHR’-zeye), is 64. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 64. Actor Anil Kapoor (ah-NEEL’ kuh-POOR’) is 62. Actor Eva Tamargo is 61. Actor Wade Williams is 60. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 58. Actor Mark Valley is 57. Actor Diedrich Bader is 55. Actor Amaury Nolasco is 51. Singer Ricky Martin is 50. Author Stephenie Meyer is 48. TV personality Ryan Seacrest (TV: “Live With Kelly & Ryan”) is 47. Actor Michael Raymond-James is 44. Actor Austin Stowell is 37. Actor Sofia Black-D’Elia is 30. Rock singer Louis Tomlinson (One Direction) is 30.